John Hume: Nobel Peace Prize winner dies aged 83
The Nobel Peace Prize winner and prominent Northern Ireland politician John Hume has died aged 83.
He died in the early hours of Monday at Owen Mor nursing home in Londonderry.
One of the highest-profile politicians in Northern Ireland for more than 30 years, he helped create the climate that brought an end to the Troubles.
He was one of the founding members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in 1970 and went on to lead the party from 1979 until 2001.
Mr Hume played a major role in the peace talks which led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was in office when the peace deal was signed, paid a warm tribute to the late SDLP leader.
“John Hume was a political titan; a visionary who refused to believe the future had to be the same as the past,” Mr Blair said.
“His contribution to peace in Northern Ireland was epic and he will rightly be remembered for it.
“He was insistent it was possible, tireless in pursuit of it and endlessly creative in seeking ways of making it happen.”
Mr Hume has been hailed as a “great hero and a true peacemaker” by current Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Micheál Martin.
“During the darkest days of paramilitary terrorism and sectarian strife, he kept hope alive. And with patience, resilience and unswerving commitment, he triumphed and delivered a victory for peace,” Mr Martin said.
Following the 1998 peace deal, Mr Hume was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with the then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, David Trimble.
Lord Trimble also acknowledged Mr Hume’s commitment to peace efforts in Northern Ireland.
“There is absolutely no doubt he was a major figure in the process,” he said.
“Right from the outset of the Troubles, John was urging people to stick to their objective peacefully and was constantly critical of those who did not realise the importance of peace.
“He was a major contributor to politics in Northern Ireland, particularly to the process that gave us an agreement that we are still working our way through.
“That is hugely important. He will be remembered for that contribution for years to come.”
Mr Hume had been suffering from dementia for many years.
In a statement, his family said: “John was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather and a brother.
“He was very much loved, and his loss will be deeply felt by all his extended family.”